Yep. The day after former State Senator Joe Dunn addressed the County Board of Supervisors about establishing a mechanism for keeping track of the professional lobbyists who haunt the 5th floor of the Hall of Admin, Matthew Cunningham popped up serially on the “Red County” blog to explain to his readers why the system ain’t broke and why his lobbyist friends have a constitutional right to “petition their government for redress.”
Aha! We called it here. Of course the idea that lobbyists are petitioning their government for anything except a chance to make big bucks for their clients is patently absurd.
We don’t agree with some of the purported details of Dunn’s original idea, but overall the concept of knowing which well-connected middlemen are knocking on your representative’s door in order to swing some deal or other, is basically a good one. Dunn’s timing and presentation to the Board were counterproductive and will be viewed as partisan, in some way. But so what?
Cunningham suggests that the whole thing is just a plan to dissuade privatization, but of course he really can’t say how, except that the OCEA union boss Nick Berardino is involved. But why should a lobbyist who is doing nothing improper or illegal fear a little bit of light illuminating his interaction with public officials?
Actually, an effort to squelch the idea will make people even more suspicious than ever about what is going on behind closed doors.
Cunningham is just doing his job, of course: trying to run interference for his Repuglican lobbyist pals like John Lewis who apparently would really rather not have the public aware of his influence with electeds. But the strategy is poor. In a second post he suggests that Dunn is simply trying to force the supervisors to adopt their own plan to avoid his referendum. Good idea.
Rather than let Dunn produce a likely popular plebiscite, the Supervisors ought to develop a sensible sytem for keeping track of lobbyists themselves, and include the union bosses like Berardino and Wayne Quint who are really nothing but lobbyists themselves – paid with ample union dues.
This issue is about recognizing the influence peddlers in OC – people who use their political and financial contacts to make inroads into public policy and pubic expenditure. Nothing wrong with that.